This week’s parashat is taken from Genesis 1:1 to 6:8. Listen in as we start back to the very beginning of the Torah; just as we ushered in the new year at Rosh Hashana!
David explains the blueprint of creation, and the very essence of why we are here!
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to PART 1 of today's Parashat:
Genesis 1:1 to 6:8
Every time I turn back to the beginning of the Torah, I am always filled with such excitement and joy! I open up the Word of God to the Book of Genesis, and a child-like glee takes over as I begin to unravel the Creation story. I’ve always had a love for science, for uncovering the “unknown” in this universe. Looking to the sub-atomic world of quantum physics baffles the mind in that there doesn’t seem to be a limit to how small the particles are that make up this universe. Not that this number makes any sense to you, but your body is made up of 6.5 octillion atoms (that’s a 6.5 with 23 zeros behind it), with each atom made up of even smaller and smaller sub-atomic particles. And to think that molecular physicists are still finding newer, and even smaller particles every day.
Then we look at the sky – we see the radiant sun shining brightly, and at night, we see the moon against a backdrop of stars all across the night sky. To think that all of those stars are just like our sun, with the closest one radiating trillions of miles away and only making up the neighbourhood of stars found in just the tail of our galaxy, the Milky Way. To think that the Milky Way houses 100 billion such stars within it along with ours. To think that within the “measurable” universe, there are 100 billion such galaxies, each housing 100 billion stars each.
Whichever way we look – whether at the micro or macro levels – there does not seem to be any end to Creation around us, ultimately a reflection of our Creator. It is against this backdrop that we open up the Book of Genesis and read the opening words of Genesis 1:1:
בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
These 7 Hebrew words carry such a simple message, yet beneath is such powerful and profound insight. Not only that, but the 31 verses that make up the Creation account of Chapter 1 seem like an awful lot of simplicity for such a complex universe around us. The reality is that if Hashem wanted to give us a science lesson and teach us precisely how He created the vast universe around us filled with unfathomable depth of microscopic particles, and infused all of that with intelligence, He would have told us how. While there is an unfathomable abundance of insights and revelations to unlock in the Hebrew text, the truth is that the overall message is clear and simple. Hashem alone designed and created the vast universe. He made it perfect, with all the right elements for all the right purposes. And the ultimate purpose for creating it all… is for the sake of mankind. Let’s investigate this statement further.
The first word of Genesis is “בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית” “Bereisheet”. While “Bereisheet” is typically translated as “In the beginning…”, that is actually an incorrect translation. If the intent was to say “In the beginning”, the proper word to use would be “בראשנה” (“barishonah”). “Bereisheet”, on the other hand, is in the construct form, meaning that it is supposed to be connected to a subject after it, but instead there is the verb “בָּרָא” (“bara” means “created”). [Note: As a standard rule of thumb in Hebrew grammar, the verb typically comes before the subject, the opposite of what we are accustomed to with English.] Literally, it should read: “In the beginning ‘of’… God created the heavens and the earth”, as if a subject is missing there.
The simplest way to interpret this is to treat the verb “bara” as a participle, so that the translation reads as: “In the beginning of God ‘creating’ the heavens and the earth…” However, the verb “bara” is not a participle (it is rather in the past tense – “God created”). In order for it to be a participle, the vowel points would have to change so that it reads as “בֹּרֵא” (“borei”). What is my point in giving you this lesson in Hebrew? Because this is pointing to a dual meaning of the verb. In fact, in the Torah scroll, there are no vowel points on the words, so all that is seen are the consonants of the words (this is the original form of the Hebrew script, as vowel points were not added until after 600 CE). So, for the verb in question, it is seen as “ברא” (see graphic below), and can hence be read as “bara” and “bore” (all dependent on what vowels are used and the context of the sentence).
There is a particular Hebrew poetic device that was employed in the poetic writings of Scriptures where the writer would write one word or phrase, and use it in connection with the ideas coming before and after. Perhaps this device was employed here in Genesis 1:1 with respect to the dual meaning for “בָּרָא / בֹּרֵא” (“bara / borei”), in which case it would read as: “In the beginning of ‘creating’, God ‘created’ the heavens and the earth.” If that is the case, what is being said here in Verse 1 is that the idea of all of Creation initially existed in God’s mind – in other words, God created the blueprint for all of Creation before speaking it all into existence. First, the thought, plan and intent, followed by the action of speaking the word.
The first word spoken was in Genesis 1:3:
וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים יְהִ֣י א֑וֹר וַֽיְהִי־אֽוֹר׃
“God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”
Turning back to Genesis 1:1 and the first word “בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית” (“Bereisheet”), there is an additional point to be made, again on the topic of duality. The first letter of the word is “ב” (“beit”) – the second letter of the Hebrew alephbet (alphabet). The letter in itself is an accurate symbol of the concept of duality. Later in the verse we read of the dual concept of “heavens” and “earth”. Throughout the Creation account, we also read of “light” and “darkness” and of “male” and “female”. We also read of the separation of the “waters below” and the “waters above”, and the separation of “dry land” from “water”. To go further, we see duality in other ways around us: “hot vs. cold”, “positive vs. negative”, “strong vs. weak”, etc. Duality is clearly an important concept of the Creation story. So what are we being taught here? This concept of duality was included by God in the process of Creation because only then can balance be created and sustained.
There have to be opposing forces in order for the concept of “balance” to even exist. Otherwise, what is being balanced? Now, what is the factor that God used to bring balance to Creation through the six days? The “balancing” force for Creation, throughout each day, was the spoken word of God. Balance did not come to Creation throughout each day until God spoke the words: “Let there be light”, “Let there be a firmament”, “Let the waters be gathered”, and so forth. Each spoken utterance brought balance and order to Creation on each day, up until God deemed Creation complete.
On the sixth day, God created Adam, blowing into him the “soul of life”. God created man to (Genesis 1:28): “Be fruitful and multiply, [to] fill the earth and subdue it; and [to] rule over the fish of the sea, the bird of the sky, and every living thing that moves on the earth.” God created man in His image, to be His conduit in continuing to bring sustained balance to Creation – to sustain what God created. On that same day, God created woman from man – by taking “one of his sides”. Earlier on, Hashem God said (Genesis 2:18): “I will make him a helper against him.” The word used here is “כְּנֶגְדּוֹ” (“kenegdo”), literally meaning “like his opposite”. This is yet another use of duality in Creation, but I know what you’re thinking – and no, God did not create woman to oppose man! Rather, based on man’s choices, the woman – his wife, his “other / better half” – literally, would either be his helper to aid him or be a helper to oppose him. Ultimately, man and woman are two halves of one, created to operate in unity, just like our Creator who is the perfect and absolute Unity.
Against this backdrop, we can better understand what went wrong and how sin entered Creation. What we do know is that Woman (later named Chavah or Eve) was tempted by the serpent to eat of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, she was coerced and took some of the fruit to Adam. In the narrative, we find Eve by herself when she was tempted by the serpent (with Adam nowhere in sight). We then see Eve add extra words to God’s original command to Adam not to eat of the fruit (she added that she also could not “touch” the fruit), showing that either Adam did not properly teach her God’s prohibition or that she added her own interpretation. We then see Eve offer the fruit to Adam and Adam eating of the fruit without questioning its origin. All throughout, the only action that the two of them did in a state of unity was to eat of the forbidden fruit.
To go further, when confronted by Hashem, Adam and Eve still couldn’t bring themselves to acknowledge the error of their ways by admitting to what they had done and reconciling back to each other and with their Creator. Whether the sin committed was intentional or unintentional is irrelevant. God gave them one simple command – “of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, you must not eat thereof; for on the day you eat of it, you shall surely die.” – and they broke it. Very clear and simple, right? Not only that, but they knew what the result was – death. I guess at this point it is fair to bring up a thought – if death came about as a result of sin, did they fully comprehend what God meant when he told them that they would die? Were they like innocent children who, being warned by their parents not to touch a lit candle, proceed to do so not understanding why? Not until they get burnt from the fire do they then understand why their parents warned them. Which ever way you slice this, they sinned. They disobeyed God’s command whether intentionally with a desire to “be like God” or unintentionally, in which case, they failed because of idleness and disunity. Either way, the act was an act of disobedience.
Ultimately, just as God spoke all of Creation into perfect existence, man was given the obligation of managing God’s Creation, of maintaining the perfect balance created by God’s Utterances, but fell short of the mark. That is precisely what “sin” is – sin is “missing the mark”, the mark set by God our Creator. The mark set by God was not to eat of the fruit of a specific Tree in the Garden, but man missed that mark. As a result, here we are, 5,782 years later, still missing the mark. What began as an original sin of disobedience by Adam and Eve has been passed on from generation to generation, spiraling out of control into this disgusting, multi-tentacled creature of darkness filling all of the earth and touching every life in the process. We can’t seem to rid ourselves of it – sin is always there, lurking in the shadows, dogging our every step, hiding behind every corner. This is what has happened through disobedience, whether a result of open rebellion or idleness or a lack of unity.
If we truly desire to bring balance to Creation in the way that God created it all through the utterance of His Words, then we need to replicate His way, we need to return to a state of unity with Him. For when we are in a state of unity with Him, only then will we be in a state of unity with each other. What is His way?
In Proverbs 8, King Solomon penned his wisdom poetry from the perspective of Wisdom as an entity. He wrote in Verse 12: “I am wisdom; I dwell in shrewdness; I provide knowledge of designs.” Later on in Verses 22-23, Wisdom continues: “Hashem made me at the beginning of His way, before His deeds of yore. I have reigned since the distant past: from the beginning, from before there was the earth.”
יְֽהוָ֗ה קָ֭נָנִי רֵאשִׁ֣ית דַּרְכּ֑וֹ קֶ֖דֶם מִפְעָלָ֣יו מֵאָֽז׃ מֵ֭עוֹלָם נִסַּ֥כְתִּי מֵרֹ֗אשׁ מִקַּדְמֵי־אָֽרֶץ׃
What is His way? The Torah of course! What Solomon is saying here is that the Torah, imbued with all its Divine wisdom, was the blueprint with which God created the heavens and the earth! What is the Torah? The Torah is not just about “the law”, the Torah is “instruction”, it is “direction”. In fact, the root word of “Torah” (“תּוֹרָה”) is “yarah” (“יָרָה”) meaning “to instruct”, “to direct”, “to teach”. Certainly, it includes “the law”, but that is not the essence of what the Torah is. The Torah is the way of life, just as it was used as the blueprint by God for creating the universe. The Torah is what brings balance to all of Creation! And in order to understand how to unlock the essence of the Torah in our lives and in this world, we have to look to the one who knew how to live it – the one who is a Living Torah.
In John 1:1, we read:
בְּרֵאשִׁית הָיָה הַדָּבָר וְהַדָּבָר הָיָה אֵת הָאֱלֹהִים וֵאלֹהִים הָיָה הַדָּבָר׃
“In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.”
This is the same Word – the Torah – that existed “in the beginning”. It was from the Torah that the living word was spoken by God to assemble all of Creation together, ultimately imbuing life into existence. John goes on to speak of the one who is the Living Torah (John 1:2-5): “It [he] was in the beginning with God. Everything was made to exist through it [him], and nothing that was made to exist was made to exist except by it [him]. There was life in it [him], and the life was light for the sons of men. The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it [him].” (Note: Both in the Hebrew and the Greek, the same word used for “it” can also mean “him”.) Finally, in Verse 14, John adds: “The word was made flesh and dwelled in our midst. We have beheld its [his] glory, like the glory of a father’s unified son, great in kindness and truth.” This man he referred to is none other than Yeshua.
Yeshua was the embodiment of that same Torah that held the blueprint of all of Creation – he was the “Living Torah”. The essence that he was made of was the same essence used to create the heavens and the earth. It was through this essence that he was unified with Hashem. This type of unification was missing in the Garden between Adam and Eve and ultimately between Adam and Eve and God, and is lacking today, 5,782 years later.
As Yeshua said to his disciples in John 14:5: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one will come to the Father except by me. If you only knew me, you would also know my Father.” We must connect to Yeshua if we want any chance of returning back to Hashem. Why? Because Yeshua is the Living Torah and ultimately the perfect living model to replicate. If we truly want to stop “missing the mark” and succumbing to the sinful nature embedded within us from Adam and Eve, repeating the same mistakes of our predecessors, then we need to learn how to also become Living Torahs like him. Only then will we learn to live in unity with our Creator, our Father in Heaven. Only then can we rectify the damage done to Creation and once again bring balance to all of Creation! Amen.